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Apr 9, 2009

Investigators Persuade Human ES Cells to Become Oligodendrocytes

  • Scientists from the University of Wisconsin report that they have successfully generated oligodendrocytes from human embryonic stem (ES) cells that can make myelin.

    For the past decade, researchers have reportedly failed to persuade human neural stem cells to become oligodendrocytes. There has, however, been success in changing mouse ES cells into oligodendrocytes through the exposure to a protein called Sonic Hedgehog. This protein produces oligodendrocytes in the spinal cord of developing embryos.

    In the current study, which will be published in May issue of Development, the investigators found that treating human ES cells with this same protein also turns them into oligodendrocytes; they just take longer to do it, 14 weeks as opposed to the two weeks taken by mouse ES cells.

    They also report that a growth factor called Fgf2, which promotes oligodendrocyte development in mouse ES cells, actually stalls it in human ES cells.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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